Before leaving office, former Minister of Defense Moshe Ya’alon wrote to outgoing Minister Environmental Protection Avi Gabai that IDF cannot afford to halt installation of asbestos replacement parts in tanks and APCs, saying no alternative exists.
Amir Ben David
Published: 05.28.16,

Despite the danger of being exposed to carcinogens, the former Minister of Defense Moshe Ya’alon permitted the IDF to continue to install new parts made of asbestos in tanks and armored personnel carriers (APC). Ya’alon insisted on their installation even though outgoing Minister of Environmental Protection Avi Gabai and his staff repeatedly warned that the parts can threaten the health of soldiers and their installation is illegal.

Approximately two months ago Yedioth Ahronoth reported that the IDF is installing new parts, which contain asbestos, in tanks and APCs, even though the Asbestos Law, which is supposed to apply to the military, forbids importing anything that contains asbestos. Ministry of Environmental Protection staff discovered the asbestos when they toured an IDF facility and observed the negligent removal of asbestos from old armored vehicles.

The Ministry of Defense then ordered all installation and removal of asbestos parts work be halted, but it has now become clear that Ya’alon later approved the renewal of work. “Halting such work essentially means harming the security of the state. Thus, it is necessary to resume (this) work,” wrote Ya’alon in a letter to Gabai. According to Ya’alon, there are no replacement parts that do not contain asbestos and it is not possible to wait for a change in the law, as legal authorities have suggested.

Minister Gabai responded to Ya’alon’s leter: “Installing asbestos ridden parts increases the risk of (getting cancer) for operational soldiers and using such material is illegal.” He also noted that Ya’alon did not bother to finish consulting him before he permitted the IDF to resume its installation of asbestos ridden replacement parts.

Ya’alon then wrote in response that he permitted the use of asbestos parts only because no other option exists and after “I was assured that they took all the required measures to protect the soldiers’ health.”

Avigdor Lieberman, the new minister of defense, will likely have to address this issue soon. And if he doesn’t, the Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit may intervene.

The Ministry of Defense said in an official statement, “In light of the great damage caused to the IDF by halting work and after receiving assurances from medical authorities that all efforts to protect the soldiers have been taken, the minister of defense has employed his authority and approved the continuation of work.”,7340,L-4808822,00.html